Critical reaction to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination as Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services continued as one Kansas pro-life leader accused her of doing nothing to help the unborn. He also accused her defenders of engaging in “deception” and “propaganda.”
On Saturday evening it was announced that Gov. Sebelius, a Democrat, had accepted the nomination to President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.
Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph Naumann in 2008 met with the governor to discuss her support for abortion. He asked her to refrain from receiving Communion until she makes a worthy confession and publicly repudiates her stand on abortion.
The governor in 2007 hosted late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller at the governor’s mansion in an event he purchased as part of a fundraising auction sponsored by the Women’s Political Caucus, a pro-abortion “rights” group.
Andrea Lafferty, Executive Director, Traditional Values Coalition, criticized the governor in a statement before her nomination was announced.
“Sebelius has stated that she’s worked to keep abortions rare and safe, but this is false. She has done everything in her power to protect the notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller and Planned Parenthood from prosecution for felony crimes! In 2007, she vetoed a bill requiring explicit medical reasons for a late abortion, vetoed legislation that would have saved the lives of babies who were victims of botched abortions, and she vetoed other pro-life legislation in 2006, 2005 and 2003.”
Lafferty argued Sebelius’ hosting dinner for Tiller showed “incredibly poor judgment.”
“No political group should be able to use a taxpayer-owned Governor’s residence as the hook for any organization’s fundraising,” she said.
Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, Family Research Council, also writing before the announcement of Sebelius’ nomination, characterized the governor as a “close ally of abortionists” and said her record “leaves no doubt she will be a strong advocate for abortion disguised as ‘health care’.”
“While a state representative, Mrs. Sebelius fought continually against parental notification, abortion waiting periods, and informed consent. As governor she twice vetoed abortion clinic regulation legislation and also a bill seeking to curb late-term abortions.”
McClusky said a Sebelius appointment would be an open declaration of “war upon the millions of Americans who support life.”
The group Catholics United has defended Sebelius’ nomination.
"Gov. Sebelius is a proven and tireless advocate for children's health care, education, adoption, and support for pregnant women, all components of a public policy agenda intended to benefit the common good. Under her leadership, the state of Kansas has witnessed sharp declines in both abortions and teen pregnancy," said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, according to The Hill.
A Sunday statement from Catholics United presented 25 Catholic leaders, scholars and theologians who said they supported Sebelius’ nomination “as Catholics.”
According to Catholics United, signers of the statement included Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, former ambassador to Portugal; Nicholas Cafardi, the former dean of the Duquesne University Law School; Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, former editor of America magazine; Prof. Doug Kmiec of Pepperdine University’s School of Law; Dr. Patrick Whelan, President of Catholic Democrats; and Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, former editor of Commonweal magazine and co-director of Fordham University 's Center on Religion and Culture.
“Governor Sebelius is a woman of deep faith with a proud family history of public service,” the statement said.
“Kathleen Sebelius has made clear that she agrees with church teaching that abortion is wrong and has lived and acted according to that belief,” the statement claimed.
It did not explicitly mention Archbishop Naumann’s criticisms of the governor, referring to “disagreements over public policy with leaders in her Church.”
The statement praised the governor’s support for funding services for pregnant women and abortion alternatives, her support of a law including unborn children as murder victims, and her support for an adoption tax credit.
It also credited Gov. Sebelius’ efforts for causing a decline in the abortion rate.
However, Kansans for Life State Development Director David Gittrich cast doubt on this defense of Sebelius’ nomination in a Monday phone interview with CNA.
“It’s a disappointment that the person who is probably the most pro-abortion person in the U.S. is now going to be in charge of Health and Human Services,” he said.
Decrying a situation where the person in charge of health care “believes that killing is health care,” he argued “anybody who thinks that killing is a solution to health care problems should never be running health care.”
Responding to Catholics United’s defense of Sebelius, Gittrich said:
“They shouldn’t even be using the word Catholic. They’re not associated with anybody in the Catholic Church. No bishop, no diocese would recognize these people as having anything to do with the Roman Catholic Church.
“They’re obviously just a front group from somebody who wants to cover for somebody who supports abortion and make them look like a pro-lifer.”
He accused Sebelius’ defenders of engaging in “deception,” describing Catholics United’s defense of Sebelius as “just propaganda, a bunch of lies.”
According to Gittrich, the governor has “never voted for pro-life legislation, and never supported any restrictions on abortion whatsoever.”
“She introduced something very similar to FOCA [the Freedom of Choice Act], which would have encoded abortion with no restrictions on anything, in Kansas law,” he said.
He attributed Kansas’ decline in abortion to the “significant” increase in crisis pregnancy centers and pro-life education efforts which focus on young people.
The decline in the abortion rate “has nothing to do with the governor,” he claimed. “I can’t give Gov. Sebelius credit for one saved baby.”
“Ask Archbishop Naumann, who disciplined Sebelius. Ask him if she’s doing great things for children.”
CNA also asked Gittrich how Sebelius’ departure from Kansas might affect the pro-life movement in the state.
“She was the leader of the liberal left-wing Democrats. They don’t have anybody to take her place,” he said.
Gittrich said he was disappointed Kansan voters didn’t recognize her “extreme liberal views,” saying the governor was “cunning” in keeping her views from the public.
“I feel sorry for the people in Washington D.C. and the people of our country.
“Politically, it’s a good thing she’s gone. See ya. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
“I’d be just as thrilled if George Tiller went to Washington, DC.”Gittrich told CNA he thought the whole country is in “serious trouble” because of Sebelius’ appointment.